Coming Full Circle
By Maria Pilar Clark
Belting and conveyor manufacturers are engineering innovative advancements to offer customers the most efficient equipment available.
Since the beginning of time, people have been fine-tuning ways to transport things from point A to point B. Today’s belting and conveyor manufacturers are innovating new technology and continuously making advancements that provide their customers with the most efficient equipment available.
Belt it Out
Nearly every machine built since the start of the Industrial Revolution has centered on the idea of moving something from one place to another. This concept has come full circle, with the evolution of cutting-edge modern belt and conveyor use.
Berndorf Belt Technology USA — an ISO- and EMAS-certified company — manufactures carbon/stainless steel belts and continuous steel belt conveyor systems for the processing and transportation of food and specialty goods.
“Our solid steel belts and conveyor systems are utilized in baking, cooling, deep-freezing, steaming, drying and transporting applications,” says Daniela Weiszhar, marketing manager for the Elgin, Ill.-based company. “Some products our belts and conveyor systems are used for include, but are not limited to, biscuits, crackers, confections [and] bread.”
Berndorf’s belts are manufactured using an endless production method, which differentiates it from the competition. Ensuring precise tracking, uniform flatness and belt straightness, the production method also provides the belts with a darker surface area. The darker surface area results in better heat conductivity, which Weiszhar says leads to higher quality and more consistent output.
“Berndorf steel belts possess a uniform dark surface area, high-thermal conductivity [and] abrasion resistance, and are designed to withstand extreme mechanical and thermal stress, facilitating operations even during demanding applications and fluctuating operating temperatures,” Weiszhar adds. “Furthermore, Berndorf belts meet strict hygienic requirements and are easy to clean, reducing downtime.”
In terms of service, Berndorf prides itself on its team of certified service technicians who, according to Weiszhar, perform maintenance and installations of the company’s steel belts and other equipment, unlike competitors that rely on sub-contractors.
“Our service technicians are equipped with all of the necessary tools to quickly assist with the customer’s needs,” Weiszhar says. “This means less downtime and more profit for the customer. We even service our competitors’ equipment.”
Berndorf’s service department has undergone many recent innovations as a result of increased demand for faster repairs and installations among its customers. According to Weiszhar, the company developed various service tools, including its new cutting and welding devices, which expedite repairs and installation procedures.
In addition to its steel belts and conveyor systems, Berndorf offers system components such as a pneumatic tracking device. Weiszhar says the device is the most accurate and dependable tracking system available, continuously monitoring and adjusting the belt-drive to enable increased and consistent output while reducing the amount of stress on the belt.
“The end result is less manual adjustments, in turn reducing downtime [and] labor costs and increasing belt life,” she adds.
Hartland, Wis.-based Dorner Mfg. Corp. is a leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of mainline conveyor systems for the food industry.
“Each conveyor within our family line of conveyor systems is honed to specific customer specifications,” notes Gary Wemmert, director of new business development. “In addition to food, Dorner conveyors perform virtually every type of packaging and material handling application in numerous industries.”
Dorner’s AquaPruf series of sanitary conveyor equipment, designed solely for the food industry, differentiates the company from others. The 7400 series, which will debut in April, is the newest conveyor platform in the AquaPruf family of conveyors, and will be available in curved or straight sections.
“Dorner invested much in the research and development of the 7400 Series and found that durability, ease of cleaning and tool-less disassembly are three areas identified as most important characteristics in a sanitary conveyor system by maintenance workers, sanitation workers and engineers in the food industry,” Wemmert explains.
The 7400 Series’ Sprocket Alignment Key (SAK) aids in the reassembly of the conveyor’s plastic chain.
“The SAK is a tool-less way to hold the conveyor’s sprockets in place on the spindle to ensure the conveyor’s modular plastic belt is properly aligned on the spindle when being reassembled after a cleaning,” he explains.
The SAK eliminates “iffy” guesswork by operators who are trying to line up sprockets with the conveyor belt.
“We feel this patent-pending innovation shows why Dorner is at the forefront of conveyor engineering,” he adds.
For Dorner’s customers, sanitation and ease of cleaning are musts for all of their conveyor systems.
“Their processes are calling for more and more cleanings of machinery and equipment,” Wemmert says. “We feel that designing a sanitary conveyor system that can be completely disassembled by only one person, no horizontal surfaces, with no tools, in a matter of minutes for cleaning is a real time saver.”
The 7400 Series also can be washed down several times a day without the worry of corroding bearings. In addition, Dorner has applied for four patents on the construction and design of its 7400 Series products.
“Another thing that separates Dorner and the 7400 Series apart from the competition is the company builds its conveyors on a built-to-order basis,” Wemmert notes. “This means Dorner builds its 7400 Series to exact customer specifications — any width or length is no problem for Dorner.”
What’s more is that Dorner can build and ship custom-ordered 7400 conveyors in as little as 10 days from the time of order. Dorner can deliver the system, built to their exact specifications, in a short period of time.
FBN Metal Products, Inc. also focuses on ease of cleaning with appropriately named equipment — the Sanitary Modular Conveyor System from its Snap Lock, Inc. division.
“Our product is designed for the strictest of sanitary standards for the food industry,” says Frank Norton, president for the Battlefield, Mo.-based company. “We offer our product in both bolt-together and welded construction.”
According to Norton, Snap Lock’s unique, patented-design equipment allows a company to standardize a single plant or multiple plants with one conveyor system designed to work from front to back — in other words, from processing through boxing and palletizing.
In addition, Snap Lock conveyors are fabricated from stainless steel and food-grade plastics. The plastics are used in support and wear surfaces and can be removed easily without the use of tools for more complete sanitation. Snap Lock also offers three series of frame construction —heavy-duty, medium-duty and light-duty.
“We have addressed more points more completely than any other conveyor manufacturer and continue to expand the benefits of our products to our customers,” Norton says. “When our customers purchase from us, they are investing in future innovations.”
Snap Lock conveyors include plastic components such as nose bars, belt supports and side rails that snap into place without the use of tools, a unique feature that Norton says allows for more complete sanitation practices. In addition, the nose bar design at the transfer ends of the conveying system facilitates operation by eliminating the need for bearings in the product zone. Futhermore, the modular design of Snap Lock’s framework and controls allow its customers to assemble and reconfigure conveyor systems as their application needs change.
“This means that no part needs to go to the bone yard where it only has scrap value,” Norton explains. “Our system will also grow as our customers grow. They may start with a very basic system and add additional length or features as their needs call for it.”
As belting and conveyor manufacturers continue to innovate and develop new ideas, customers can thank them for shortening the distance between point A and point B, while making the process more cost-effective and efficient in the interim. SF&WB